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Jane McGonigal

jane mcgonigal largeJane McGonigal is a visionary game designer and futurist, and she is harnessing the power of the Internet games in new ways to help solve some of the biggest challenges facing our world today and tomorrow.

Jane McGonigal is today’s leading speaker on the engagement economy and the application of game-design to the real world. Referencing lessons learned through her work creating games for organizations such as the World Bank, the Olympic Games, the American Heart Association, the New York Public Library, and many more. Her book, Reality Is Broken: How Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change The World, is a New York Times bestseller.

In this engaging, forward-thinking book, Jane makes the case that the gamer spirit — an attitude of fun, dedicated, collective problem-solving — is our greatest asset as we face the social, economic, and environmental problems of the 21st century. She argues that game designers are effectively happiness engineers, experts in making difficult tasks engaging, and that we should draw on their smarts as we frame the challenges of our time.

Jane herself is a specialist in this field, a designer of alternate reality games, where a real-life activity is re-framed as a game. Players of Jane’s games face challenges as serious as surviving peak oil or establishing local sustainable businesses. And they face them with courage and creativity, inspired by their gameful state of mind. Persistence, energy, collaborative creativity, a sense of purpose in hard work — games unlock all of these powerful attitudes. And, most importantly of all, it restores to contemporary life the kind of heroism and communal striving that most of us struggle so hard to find.

Jane is notable for bringing gaming to the healthcare space. Her best-known project is SuperBetter, a mobile app and web-based game that helps individuals challenge personal health challenges (depression, anxiety, chronic pain, stress reduction), and get support from their “allies” — real-life friends and family. With more than 125,000 players, it is currently under study at OSU Medical Center and the University of Pennsylvania. Jane’s other healthcare games include collaborations with the American Heart Association and the Myelin Repair Foundation.

She is currently an advisor and affiliate researcher with the Institute for the Future in Palo Alto, California, where she served for four years as the Director of Game Research and Development. Her recent projects include a Games for Healthcare initiative with IFTF and the White House as well as Paths Out Of Poverty, a crowdsourcing game by IFTF for the Rockefeller Foundation.